Perhaps you have heard that one of the worship leaders and songwriters for Hillsong, Marty Sampson, has not only left Hillsong Church, but is severely doubting the Christian faith as well. (If you would rather watch the YouTube video on this, just click here.) He states that there are a lot of consistency problems and things that are questionable. For these, and other reasons, he took to social media and announced he had lost his faith
He is not alone. Quite a few other notable people have made similar declarations and turned away from Christianity, but their statements have flaws, and his objections can be easily answered. That’s why I want to talk about a few of the reasons that he gave, where they are lacking, and why they don’t hold up. There are good, rational, logical reasons for being Christian, for believing in God, and for having the faith we do.
Getting back to Marty Sampson, specifically, this man has been a worship songwriter and worship leader for Hillsong Church since the 1990’s. In late August he publicly announced that he had left his faith.
“I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. I am so happy now, so at peace. How many miracles happen? Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet — they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people. But it’s not for me. I am not in it any more. I want genuine truth. Not the “I just believe it” kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God.”
On one hand, I want to shake Marty, but on the other hand, I can absolutely understand where he is coming from because I also asked countless difficult questions growing up and received no good answers, or just cheesy answers.
I wondered, how do we know God exists for real? What about evolution? What about the Big Bang? Why would God send people to Hell if He loves them? Why doesn’t prayer seem to work? And many other questions, and you know what people told me? “You just have to believe.” “That’s why it’s faith.” And, “It’s a mystery”
Unfortunately, sometimes, this is what well meaning people will say. They may not know the proper answers, and instead of digging deeper, they simply tell you to have faith. So, while I doubt Marty Sampson will read this blog post, I want to tell him that I totally understand where he is coming from because I had the same struggles, and I have found good answers.
I, like Marty, love truth, want to know the truth, and don’t want to believe something if it’s not truth. This is why I have spent twenty-five years looking up all of the answers to my faith questions. I have studied the other religions as well (just in case), and I studied a lot of the atheistic and skeptical arguments. I studied everything I could, and I found answers that satisfy. I’ve come to know that the fullness of the truth is in Jesus Christ and there are good, logical, reasonable answers to be found if you desire them.
Walking away from God will not lead anyone to the truth. God is the truth. Deciding that God doesn’t exist, or claiming to be dissatisfied with faith is a reaction based on emotion. I can get why people do it, but there are a lot of problems with walking away from God and it is not the path to real peace and happiness. I am sorry to read that Marty never felt that he had that in Christianity and that he only received cheesy answers when he was questioning.
The fact is, miracles do happen today, and they happen a lot more than you or Marty Sampson might think. Sure, they might seem to have happened more often many, many ages ago, but ask yourself this; as a culture, as people, do we have more faith now, or do we have less? Is our culture following God more, or are we following God a lot less?
Jesus said that you need great faith to see great works. People who have great faith, tend to see great works. In fact, I have a book called, Miracles Do Happen, by Sister Briege McKenna. She was once told she would spend her life confined to a wheelchair. After she experienced her own miraculous healing she now travels the world healing people from things that they were told could not be healed. She has encountered people with blindness, deformities, and serious illnesses. When they come to her she touches them and prays with them. Sometimes they are healed right on the spot. We’re not talking about small miracles, we’re talking about big ones!
Mr. Sampson might also want to research what happens at Lourdes. Thousands upon thousands of miracles occur at Lourdes. There have been over 6000 documented miracles, and 67 of those miracles have been scientifically verified by more than thirty physicians, doctors, neurologists, etc.
Specifically because the Church knows there are skeptics, when a person claims any miracle, there is serious research done. We don’t check the “Oh, the Catholic Church saw it and believes it” box. It’s quite the opposite. The Vatican is sure to have each and every one extensively checked out, even by non-Catholics!
Many more could be enumerated. There are so many books about miracles that have occurred and which have been proven by unbiased members of the scientific community. That said, faith doesn’t rest on the fact that miracles do or don’t happen. Even if miracles didn’t happen, it would not mean that God doesn’t exist. Perhaps it would indicate that we don’t have enough faith or that God is not working in that way anymore. The fact remains, God is real, and He can work in many ways if we truly believe.
As far as the Bible being full of contradictions, it may seem to be the case but only to people who don’t really understand the Bible. So, while many may say this they haven’t actually read or studied the Bible. In the places where there are contradictions, have you studied them? Are they real contradictions or are they just differences? For example, I have a couple books here that are both written by the same authors.
One is a huge book called When Critics Ask, and another titled, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook of Christian Evidences. Both of these books which answer these supposed contradictions of the Bible, and many more on my shelves (like Hard Sayings, or Is God a Moral Monster) which deal with more difficult passages of Scripture. The Bible is made up of many different books, genres, literary styles, etc. Not everything is to be taken literally, and unless you understand these basic things, you can’t hope to understand the Bible. But skeptics read the Bible as if it is Lord of the Rings or something, just one genre, what you see is what it means. Not so, and that is the problem.
I don’t know about Hillsong, so I can’t really speak to them. They are a worship group that loves Jesus, but how studied are they? How deep into apologetics have the dove? If Mr. Samson were to do a deep study into the faith, I guarantee he would find the answers that would make sense.
Science and Religion
Lastly, the argument that science has poked holes in the beliefs of all of the religions is not actually true. It has poked holes in many of the religions. It’s poked holes in certain aspects of religion and it should, because we don’t want to believe superstitions. Science should absolutely call out any parts of faith that are superstitious and don’t make sense. But faith also prevents science from scientism, becoming a God itself.
Science is wonderful, but it would be foolish to believe that it has all the answers when it doesn’t. Faith and science, when considered properly, complement each other. In fact, the Catholic Church loves science. I know Mr. Sampson is not a Catholic, but I wonder if he knows that without the Catholic Church, we would not have science as we know it today because it was it was the Catholic Church who encouraged and forwarded science for over a thousand years throughout the Middle Ages. The Catholic Church even invented the Scientific method.
As a matter of fact, there are 35 craters on the moon named after Catholic priests because of their extraordinary mathematical and scientific achievements. It was the Catholic Church that started the university systems and classified different subjects, including science. This is the foundation of so much of the knowledge that we have today. So, while I can’t speak for all religions, I can say that for Catholics, science and religion have always gone together. The majority of scientists over the past 2000 years have been Christian. They believed in God and they believed in science, and did not see a contradiction.
Another thing you might be surprised to know that the Catholic Church has one of the oldest and largest scientific observatories on the face of the planet. The Vatican Observatory was built in 1578, and has a long history of science-based achievements. You also might be interested to learn that the Catholic Church is not against evolution, or that evolution is not a problem when you understand the Bible correctly (Again, genre, literary style, etc). Nor is the Catholic Church against the Big Bang. Some people say they don’t believe in God because they think life began with the Big Bang. Well, guess what? A Catholic priest, Father Georges Lemaitre, was the first to theorize the Big Bang in 1929. He believed in God and he was a great scientist, like most scientists throughout history.
Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics was an Catholic monk. In fact, one of the greatest scientists on earth right now, who even Richard Dawkins, the fundamentalist, gives crazy respect to, is a man named Francis Collins. He’s a Christian and the author and founder of the Human Genome Project, the first one to map out the entire human genome. He is among the greatest scientists on earth and he is very open about the fact that his work has led him to a deep belief in God. He wrote an interesting book about why he believes.
Anthony Flew, one of the most famous atheist in the last century converted to believe in God too toward the end of his life. He also has a book as well. There are plenty of books, and there is a lot of proof to show that science and religion are not opposed to each other. That’s a myth. Many well respected scientists believe in God. The Catholic Church keeps a list of their scientist priests and there are hundreds and hundreds of them because the Church is not threatened by science. Science and religion can go together. They can coexist, just as they have since the beginning of time.
So, Mr. Sampson, if you ever read this, I would love to sit down with you,
and I would love to talk to you about any and every question you have.
I would love to listen to you, your struggles, and the issues you are having. I believe we could have a sincere, brotherly, discussion. It would be a breath of fresh air too because I am tired of people not providing good answers. For now, I will pray for you, and I know that you will return someday after your journey. I believe in my heart, and I hope and pray, that you will be a prodigal son coming back faithful and more fervent than ever.
The Catholic Church is the deepest and most logical religion on this planet with the most amount of answers. Has anyone looked up the 5 Proofs of St. Thomas Aquinas for the existence of God. They are fantastic! I would challenge anybody who is struggling with faith to look up the answers they seek with an open heart and an open mind. You might be surprised what you learn!
I will be praying for Mr. Sampson and all of Hillsong Church as they cope with this loss., I would also be remiss if I didn’t invite all of the Hillsong members to the truth – the fullness of truth that Jesus started 2000 years ago, the Catholic Church.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to share this with others and to offer any questions you yourself have. God bless!